Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2023 December 6
Explanation: It's stars versus dust in the Carina Nebula and the stars are winning. More precisely, the energetic light and winds from massive newly formed stars are evaporating and dispersing the dusty stellar nurseries in which they formed. Located in the Carina Nebula and inside a region known informally as Mystic Mountain, these pillars' appearance is dominated by opaque brown dust even though it is composed mostly of clear hydrogen gas. Even though some of the dust pillars look like torches, their ends are not on fire -- rather, they are illuminated by nearby stars. About 7,500 light-years distant, the featured image was taken with the Hubble Space Telescope and highlights an interior region of Carina known as HH1066 which spans nearly a light year. Within a few million years, the stars will likely win out completely and the dust torches will completely evaporate.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC,
NASA Science Activation
& Michigan Tech. U.